by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
Quirks and Quibbles
If there is one criticism that can be levied against the game, it is that much of it feels overly familiar. Warner Brothers has added to the formula as best they could but between the samey environments, same structure, and same combat, there is a definite sense of having done these things before. As a result, it is hard to shake the feeling that Origins is the annual game in what is really a bi-annual series.
Other quibbles add to this perception, most notably boss fights. These are, without doubt, the single weakest aspect of the game if only for how frustrating they can be. Taking on major enemies is an overly long and punishing experience that too often relies on pitch perfect timing. Like all Arkham bosses, each one in Origins has a pattern that must be deciphered. Once it has been figured, success is only a matter of matching the pattern and reacting appropriately. Warner Brothers felt the need to amp up the difficulty through simple repetition. Ten minute boss fights are not a welcome addition purely when it is the same thing over and over again and especially not when failure means the same drawn out experience all over again. It really becomes un-fun after awhile.
Polish, too, suffers. Small things, such as fallen enemies sucking themselves up from the floor and into Batman’s hands just feel sloppy. In-engine cutscenes have a tendency to chug causing noticeable framerate drops. Even the series’ iconic death scenes are missing the dark snap which made them so memorable in the past. None of these are game breaking issues, or even that much of a problem, but they are there and take you out of the experience.
Replayability to Spare
What Origins does not lack are reasons to keep playing. You will find a completionists dream (and possibly their nightmare). The game features hundreds of collectibles, achievements, and unlockable costumes to keep players coming back dozens of hours later. There is also a new game plus mode and an “I Am the Night” mode, both of which ramp up the difficulty with the latter including permadeath. When you’re done with that, you can try your hand at the challenge maps and see how you rank on the leaderboards. For the first time in the franchise’s history, there is also a multiplayer mode which pits two teams of three gang members against two heroes.
Releasing the Cowl
Stepping back from my time with the Bat, I am left with mixed, but mostly positive, feelings. Here is a game which does almost everything right. The combat is tightly brutal, the story is interesting and well paced, and the city of Gotham is as darkly compelling as it ever was.
And yet something is missing. Arkham Origins is a very good but very familiar game. It lacks the spice of originality that made the previous two games great. Is it worth playing? Absolutely. But stood up next to its forebearers, it fails to earn a new high water mark. Being built upon the shoulders of two of the best action games this generation is hardly a criticism and Batman fans will find plenty to enjoy in this third entry.
Same great combat and mission structure, larger world, well evolving story
Slightly less polish, can feel very familiar